9th Wonder - The Wonder Years (2011)

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What do you think it deserves?
5 mics - HEAT!! GOAT!! 26 33.33%
4 mics - Sick... 24 30.77%
3 mics - Good sh|t. 16 20.51%
2 mics - Could have been better. 10 12.82%
1 mic - TERRIBLE. 2 2.56%
Voters: 78. Sorry, you cannot vote on this poll (Boxden members only)

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 5 years ago '11        #41
Miles J Hughes 18 heat pts18
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$2,607 | Props total: 1390 1390
I got a review copy about a week ago and just wrote a review of the album. For better or worse, just my take on what I heard.


Don’t think I sat down on a Monday evening with a beer typing at my keyboard typing about this album because I liked it. I didn’t. If you read the review I wrote previously on Phonte, you’ll quickly discern that my feelings about 9th Wonder have changed dramatically since the first time I heard him and before you write this off as hate mail, listen to my reasons why.

I’ll sum it up in the most time-saving way I know how: 9th’s beats of recent suck. They’re plain (but haven’t they always been?), repetitive (ditto) and lack the skill that he displayed. At first I thought I was suffering from a case of nostalgia for times gone past but that’s not it; the songs he’s produced have had both old and new favorites doing their best over what ultimately must be called laziness on 9th’s part.

In order for me to do this review justice, I have to do two reviews in one: one for the guests he has rhyming and one for the beat (labeled ‘A’ and ‘B’, respectively). Doing it singularly would really be a disservice to not only the artists who stepped in the booth to help Mr. Douthit out but the classic Dream Merchant Vol. 2.

9thmatic & Khrysis – “Make It Big”

A. Khrysis and 9th rapping? I’ve heard 9th spitting decent bars before (Big Remo’s “Woop Woop” and “Go” respectively) but this ain’t it son. Khrysis’ bars were passable but 9th didn’t even rhyme for most of his time on the mic. I mean, the whole purpose of making music is for people to want to listen to it, right? Not skip it the very second you start, right?

B. I’m sorry, this beat is a.ss. The sampling sounds like he literally chopped a couple phrases and threw some drums behind it. On top of that, how many times are you going to mention that Grammy homeboy? You say it in every interview, it’s on everything your face is on and now it makes its way into THE FIRST SONG OF YOUR ALBUM. A Grammy, while forever memorialized within the annals of time shouldn’t be thrown in our face every chance you get.

Phonte & Median – “Band Practice”

A. Classic ‘Te. Classic Median. Can we get a dual album already? Everybody knows they work well together and 9th putting them back to back on a song is like this is just unfair for whomever is next on the playlist. And it’s short and sweet so before you really feel it, it’s over.

B. Not bad. This sounds like it came from the stash of beats circa The Listening. You know what’s missing? Let’s play a word game, you guess the missing letters. Rapper B_G P___H. Yep, I knew you’d get it.

Warren G., MURS and Kendrick Lamar- “Enjoy”

A. One I wouldn’t have imagined. Warren sounds as fluid as always and rides the snare like he came from North Carolina. MURS came in and much like the work he and 9th did before, he knows how to fill in the gaps the jerkiness the sample placements leaves well. Kendrick Lamar is that guy there always is that raps either too hard or too soft to fit the mode and similarly messes up the groove. The good news is by the time he comes on you’re already halfway to the skip button.

B. The beat isn’t bad, it’s got that classic bounce 9th’s known for and right now I want to take the time to ask a very pointed question: since when did 9th chop so wide? Used to be, he would take smaller segments and place them in a way the instruments behind the chop would gel the whole thing. Now it seems, especially in this beat, that he’s either not caring as much or he’s not caring as much. You decide.

Actual Proof & Tanya Morgan – “Streets of Music”

A. Tanya Morgan has been on the mainstream side of the indie scene for a while now; they haven’t had the song that puts them over (just like another of my favorite groups Strange Fruit Project) but that doesn’t mean they aren’t working. Actual Proof was the one I was like “who”? The song’s okay but I doubt you’ll be bumping this one often.

B. What the hell is this obnoxious sample? I wonder if they rhymed on it because they actually thought it tight or because 9th promised them a spot on the album. Either way, they should’ve bugged him for a better beat because this one is the toilet tissue to “Make It Big”.

Skyzoo, Fashawn & King Mez – “Hearing the Melody”

A. Yeah, I just listened for Skyzoo too. I have little idea who Fashawn is and none for King Mez. Overall, the song wouldn’t be bad except for the fact Sky rocked first and it’s easier to skip the rest than care who they are. That’s why Andre 3000 always got the last verse on remixes so people would at the least elevator music the other guys (you know, hear them while not actively listening to them).

B. Damn 9th, ANOTHER trash-ous sample? Is your crates empty? For someone who’s “all about the culture” you sure pick the wackest samples homeboy. Some of those net beat tapes had more fire than this album so far.

Masta k!lla & Halo – “Loyalty”

A. Masta k!lla and who? Oh, I get it. 9th is paring up the weed carriers from his two labels with known MCs so they can get a little burn. The sad thing is that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is you hear the guy who attracted you to the song and you move on. So let’s do that.

Mela Machinko & Mez – “Now I’m Being Cool”

A. 9th’s tried mixing old school with R & B, most notably “Honey” with “Backside” Badu and it’s had some success, not a lot but some and I say that to say this: this is cool but I guess during the mixdown Median decided to come in and save the song because I was just about to skip it when I heard his high-pitched a.ss come in. Friends don’t let friends go out like suckas.

B. Eh, it’s okay. I’ve heard worse from him but I probably won’t ever play it again.

Terrace Martin Talib Kweli – “Never Stop Loving You”

A. Terrace came in like a cornball but Talib deftly kept this one from being a 30 second listen. The way Kweli rhymed it reminded me of “Never Been In Love” and the outro was definitely aimed at the grown folk.

B. Best beat I’ve heard on the album.

Blu & Sundown – “Piranhas”

A. I kinda know who Blu is but that’s not enough to help the track get over that lazy a.ss beat. Remember when 9th used to intricately manipulate samples and use that water effect to k!ll the monotony? Not here, or anywhere so far.

B. See above.

Marsha Ambrosius – “Peanut Butter & Jelly”

A. This song is liken to an astronaut submitting an application to Taco Bell–Marsha literally k!llS the track with her ability and instead of showcasing her ability, it makes you want to scour the internet for a remix by another producer.

B. Can you really even call this a beat? 9th is known for his understated productions using toned down drums and minimalistic sampling techniques but this sounds like he sampled 10 seconds of a song and sent it to her to sing on without touching it further. You think I’m joking? The most instrumentation on this entire song is the finger snaps at the end and her singing harmony with herself. I wish she’d done the song by herself.

Terrace Martin, Phonte & Bird – “One Night”

A. Remember The Mind of Mannie Fresh and how there were skits where Lil’ Wayne stole one of Mannie’s beats when he wasn’t in the studio? That’s what this sounds like, like 9th was at the crib polishing his Grammy, humming “Girl” and doing the Carolina Cootercat while they recorded this. This song has the soul of the album sitting on its chest.

B. Beat’s cool. More Phonte. Looking at how many songs are left on the tracklisting. Moving on.

Holly Weerd & Tom Thee Hardy – “Your Smile”

A. That tactic I mentioned earlier with the well known artist backing the Jamla/IWW artist goes right out the window here. Hardy’s had some hard verses before and does all he can here but just sounds as tired as the bucket snare 9th uses here.

B. There are only a few songs that the bucket snare sounds good on. This isn’t one of them. Although the musicality of the beats have improved greatly in the last few beats, I’m at the point in the album where I don’t care anymore.

Raekwon & Big Remo – “No Pretending”

A. OH sh*t! New Rae! That’s what I was supposed to say but it’s hard when he’s spitting lava rocks over a beat that sounds as though it pulled the cover over its head and hit the snooze button.

B. Sounds like it could be “Speed” part two. Tigallo would’ve ate this one respectable like. I think I’ve found the right word for this batch of 9th beats: unspectacular. (I used bold, italics underline and strikethrough but I don’t think I can make you feel what I’m saying any more than that.)

Erykah Badu & Rhapsody – “20 Feet Tall”

A. Would’ve rather heard Jean Grae than Rhapsody but she did well. The psychology of this track is all over the place as Erykah is off beat on the hook something serious.

B. My brain hurts.

Mac Miller & Heather Victoria – “That’s Love”

A. Mr. Wiz Jr. is a welcome surprise. Not because he brings something to the track, to be fair he tries to but he’s competing with 9th for blandness and as monotone as he comes off, he loses.

B. How did this get off the drawing-room floor? Easily the worst song on the album, it sounds amateurish at best. Just about the most boring beat ever conceived.

Terrace Martin, Problem & GQ – “A Star U R”

A. It’s much too late to try to sneak a banger in there but still he tried. I’d rather hear Pac Div on this but whatever. Everyone does their thing over a decent track that should’ve been placed earlier in the album out of necessity. I’d feel bad about talking down on this track when there’s a nice, positive message at the end.

B. Another jazzy tune that I’d love to hear as an instrumental. As the last song, it serves to solidify my opinion of the whole. Nothing more.

I can’t even tell you how long I’ve waited to hear this album but I know it has been years. Since before the Little Brother breakup, I think. Or maybe right after, I’m not certain. What I do know is this CD will not get bud broken up on it; the fate for it is condensation rings while it sits on the table. I don’t know what’s up but I hope it’s a phase and a quickly ending one because the album title should be “Wonder If People Will Even Care You Exist Next Year”. There was no wonderment, no amazing feeling of getting precisely what I wanted. Only doubt, regret and even deeper nostalgia.

Say it ain’t so, 9th, say it ain’t so.

-Just sayin’.

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 5 years ago '06        #42
smoothlikebutta 17 heat pts17
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$5,062 | Props total: 739 739
 alkoholyck said:
The Listening and The Minstrel Show would like a word with you. And I say this as someone who considers Phonte my favorite rapper - Little Brother's albums post-9th were very, very average.
 5 years ago '04        #43
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$1,390 | Props total: 0 0
I know people are going to get mad but I think the reason 9th's beats have changed recently is due to his move to new equipment. If you watch his videos that get posted he has switched from FL STudio (Fruity Loops and Cool Edit) to an MPC 2500. It seems as if he's still trying to learn the equipment or has given up on learning the equipment. He now takes a few hit stabs and places those on the pads and just repeatedly presses those. When I heard the first track I was like noooo. Back in the day he was more fluid and manipulated more of a sample. I think his beats are suffering. I'll try and listen to the cd again but album of the year, no way.
 5 years ago '04        #44
matelyan 21 heat pts21
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$9,476 | Props total: 242 242
 ChiCity Fingaz said:
Huge 9th fan, but man this sh*t is disappointing.

Band Practice
Never Stop Loving You

are cool.

But the rest of the album is surprisingly bad. And he put "Pretend" on there? I know it has new verses, but what the hell....song is years old. Whatever it is 9th, his compilation albums just aren't good. This one of those CD's where you keep waiting and waiting for it to pick up and get to the sound of 9th you know and love, but it never happens..

That pretty much sums up my opinion on the album. I kept waiting, wishing and wanting something more and better, but it never came.
 5 years ago '06        #45
rlnichol77 1 heat pts
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$1,017 | Props total: 1 1
this 9th wonder album is sick , NC bringing that feel good music back.
J Cole , 9th , Phonte , Big Pooh ,Joe Scudda,Justus League, Cesar Comanche, L.E.G.A.C.Y
 5 years ago '05        #46
DaOmega_1 255 heat pts255
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$12,688 | Props total: 236 236
The songs I liked on it, I LOVED...

But overall, I was expecting a lot more. It ain't bad, but Phonte & Evidence's albums trump this.
 5 years ago '05        #47
Gremlin 1057 heat pts1057
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$8,994 | Props total: 1866 1866
My God Phonte k!lllllllllllllllsssssssssssssssss "One Night"

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 10-05-2011, 10:07 AM         #48
$n/a | Props total:  
Never was a big 9th Wonder fan, and this album proved why
 5 years ago '08        #49
thewallochamp 2 heat pts
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$1,732 | Props total: 7 7
i like the CD, not great not bad by any means, right now this goes hard

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 5 years ago '06        #50
T.C_So_Fresh 7 heat pts
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$2,183 | Props total: 33 33
Man Im sooooooooo late.......I need a link

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